Renault dismisses question marks over its alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi

Key Points
  • Renault's new CEO and chairman both claim the alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi is solid.
  • The arrest of former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn has thrown the partnership into doubt.
Ensuring permanence of auto alliance a priority, Renault CEO says

Renault's new CEO told CNBC that there is no "question mark" hanging over his firm's alliance with Japanese firms Nissan and Mitsubishi.

The partnership was plunged into crisis in November when former Nissan chairman and Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn was arrested in Japan following allegations of financial misconduct. It transpired that Nissan executives had been helping Japanese prosecutors with evidence.

On Tuesday, and after more than three months of detention, Ghosn was granted bail. A Tokyo court approved his release, having denied two previous requests, on the condition he agrees to video surveillance.

Now his replacement at Renault, Thierry Bollore, has told CNBC that over the last month the company had spent a large amount of time working with its Japanese partners to re-establish trust.

Speaking at the 89th Geneva International Motor Show on Tuesday, Bollore said the future of the auto alliance was not under threat.

"It is not at all a question mark. We need more alliance, we need better alliance. This is independent of events," he told CNBC's Annette Weisbach, before claiming that all three firms were now looking to deepen their cooperation with each other.

"We need to permanently make the alliance progress with our three companies, and make sure we can deliver better together," Bollore said.

Renault chairman 'extremely confident' in alliance's future

Also on Tuesday, Renault's new chairman, Jean-Dominique Senard, said he was also "extremely confident" in the future of the alliance.

"We are working hard to make sure the future of this alliance is brilliant. I'm totally convinced it will happen and we will find ways to make sure it is understood by everybody," Senard added.

Renault outlook

In mid-February Renault posted its first set of results since the arrest of Ghosn. The French carmaker reported a 35 percent slump in net profit for 2018 to 3.45 billion euros ($3.9 billion).

On Tuesday, Bollore claimed the results were good in the face of a "very shaky year." The chief executive said he expected the first six months of 2019 to reap "moderate growth" but that a raft of new product launches after the summer would improve sales.

Bollore admitted that the key China market had proved sluggish but said the company was continuing to learn.

Shares of Renault and Nissan have dipped by around 7 percent since Ghosn's arrest.